Lake Andes, SD (KELO) — A non-profit dedicated to preserving and promoting Native American culture is shedding new light on the plight of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. It’s a problem more widespread than many people may realize.
The murder rate for women living on reservations is ten times the national average.
Far too many families on Native American reservations are facing the anguish of missing loved ones who may be victims of foul play.
“We really need to not forget about them ever, because those families are still waiting, even if it’s been twenty or thirty years,” Brave Heart Society Executive Director Faith Spotted Eagle said.
Faith Spotted Eagle and Melaine Stoneman are members of the Lake Andes-based Brave Heart Society. They say families are often left in the dark when it comes to the investigation into missing and murdered women and girls.
“It’s frustrating for the family because they don’t hear anything and I think it’s torturing for them that some of that needs to be looked at as investigators investigation,” Brave Heart Society member Melaine Stoneman said.
Brave Heart Society members say they’re encouraged by the State of South Dakota setting up an Office of Liaison for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons. But add that the new office came at great cost.
“We have been very active for years and so it was a culmination of something that was just heart-rending, emotional loss and I think it was a lot time in coming,” Spotted Eagle said.
Raising awareness is an important step in helping families seeking answers about their missing loved ones.
“MMIW is kind of like an onion, you’ve got to keep peeling it back to get to the main core,” Stoneman said.
The Brave Heart Society is compiling information about cold cases involving missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. They’re planning on presenting their findings on a future podcast.
You can hear more from the members on this weekend’s Inside KELOLAND, which airs Saturday morning at 9 Central Time and again Sunday night following KELOLAND Weekend News at 10.